The Use of Research within State Education Agencies

The Use of Research within State Education Agencies
The Use of Research within State Education Agencies


As education policy decisions shift to the state level, State Education Agencies are well positioned to use high quality research in policy and practice decisions. They also play a critical role in supporting the use of research-based practices amongst a wide range of stakeholders. This forum shared findings from recent research, funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation, on how research is used to inform policy and practice decisions within State Education Agencies. Dr. Margaret Goertz, Professor of Education Policy, University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, discussed how staff in State Education Agencies access, interpret, and use research to inform their work and how external partners support the dissemination of research within the agency. Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems, Massachusetts Department of Education, discussed how research was shared within the State Education Agency and how staff incorporated external research organizations when capacity within state agencies was insufficient. Jennifer Davis, Interim Director, Innovation Lab Network, Council of Chief State School Officers, examined how research partnerships can be scaled up and external organizations can promote the development of social networks within state agencies to encourage the use of research-based practices.


This forum is part of a series of events showcasing a body of work supported by the W.T. Grant Foundation that examines how research is being used in state and local education agencies and in the development of the Common Core State Standards.


Presenter Biographies

Carrie Conaway is the Associate Commissioner of Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She manages a team of 15 staff responsible for providing analysis, research, planning and implementation support, and tools so that the agency and the field can implement effective programs and improve educational outcomes. Her team also led the development of the state’s top-scoring, $250 million Race to the Top proposal and now manages its implementation statewide.


Previously she was the Deputy Director of the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and an Associate Editor of the Bank’s flagship publication, Regional Review. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Oberlin College; a master’s degree in policy analysis and labor policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; and a master’s degree in sociology and social policy from Harvard University.


Jennifer Davis currently serves as the Interim Director for the Innovation Lab Network (ILN) at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  As Interim Director, Jennifer oversees the work of the ILN team to facilitate the Network of ten states as they pursue local-to-statewide transformation of education systems toward innovative, student-centered designs anchored in college and career readiness for all students.  Prior to her appointment as Interim Director, Jennifer served as the Research Director for the ILN at CCSSO, designing and implementing a research framework to help states understand the progress and impact of their work.  Prior to that role, Jennifer was a Senior Research and Development Associate for CCSSO.  Before joining CCSSO, Jennifer worked as a consultant on topics including strategic planning, research, early childhood education, education data, and international education.

Prior to her work in education policy, Jennifer conducted research in evolutionary biology and taught 9th grade biology and coached the volleyball team at a low-income high school within Los Angeles Unified School District.  She still keeps in touch with her students.

Jennifer graduated cum laude from Harvard University College with a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular and Cellular Biology.  She also holds a Master of Education in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.


Margaret is a professor emerita of Education Policy and a senior researcher at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has over 35 years of experience conducting and leading national and state-level studies on education policy and policy implementation, including state and local implementation of Title I, NCLB and IDEA; the design and implementation of standards-based reform by state education agencies, school districts, and elementary and secondary schools; the interface between federal and state accountability and school improvement policies; and state and local district resource allocation.

She is currently studying how state education agencies are organized to manage and use evidence in their policies or practices to improve low-performing schools.  A past president of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, she currently serves on the Technical Work Groups and as a consultant for USED’s  Integrated Evaluation of ARRA Funding, National Evaluation of Title I/Title II and Study of School Turnaround.  Prior to joining the University of Pennsylvania faculty, Dr. Goertz taught at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and was Executive Director of the Education Policy Research Division of Educational Testing Service.



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Presenter Information

Carrie Conaway

Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148


Jennifer Davis

Interim Director

Innovation Lab Network

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

One Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 700

Washington, DC 20001



Dr. Margaret Goertz

Professor of Education Policy & Co-Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education

University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

215-573-0700 x234


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